- 3 tablespoons EVOO - Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 3 1/2-pound beef brisket, trimmed of some of the fat but not all
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 softball-size onions, sliced
- 1 pound small carrots, peeled and chopped
- 4 ribs celery, chopped
- 8 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 10 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and chopped
- 2 jalapeo peppers, seeded and chopped
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 smoked ham hock
- 2 quarts plus 2 cups chicken stock, divided
- 2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 1/2 cups quick-cooking polenta
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup (a couple of handfuls) flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
Preheat oven to 325F.
Place your largest Dutch oven over medium-high heat with 3 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 3 tablespoons. While the oil is heating up, liberally season the brisket first with the pepper and then with the salt, don't be shy about seasoning the meat. Once the oil has started to ripple, add the brisket to the pot and brown thoroughly on one side before turning over onto the second side.
Once both sides are nice and brown, remove the brisket from the pot and reserve. To the pot add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, jalapeo peppers, some salt and pepper. Cook for about 8-10 minutes to brown up the veggies.
Add the tomato paste and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the cider vinegar, dark brown sugar, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce, stirring to scrape up all of the bits on the bottom of the pot.
Add 1 quart of the chicken stock and the ham hock and bring up to a simmer. Add the browned brisket to the pot and nestle it and the ham hock down into the liquids. Bring the pot back up to a simmer, place a lid on it and transfer to the oven. Braise for 3 hours or until the brisket is fork tender. To check if it is tender, remove the pot from the oven and stick the brisket with a fork at its thickest part. If the fork easily slips out, the brisket is tender and ready. If not, return it to the oven for another 20 minutes and check it again. Once it is tender and out of the oven, let it rest in the pot with all the liquids for about 15 minutes. Remove the brisket to a cutting board. Remove and discard the ham hock form the pot. Let the sauce remain in the pot until ready to serve.
Combine remaining 1 quart plus 2 cups of chicken stock, the milk and honey in a large sauce pot over high heat and bring up to a boil. Once bubbling, turn the heat down to medium and pour the polenta in a slow steady stream while whisking it continuously. Continue to cook and stir until the polenta is thick, 2-3 minutes, drop in the butter and set aside until ready to serve.
Slice the brisket into slices about 1/4-inch thick with a long, thin, sharp knife against the grain of the meat. Serve a few slices of brisket topped with the sauce over the polenta, sprinkle with the parsley and toasted, chopped pecans.